Beyond Skin Deep

Nursing alumna leads toxin-free makeup and skin care company

By Sayantika Mandal MFA '19, USF News Posted Tue, 11/27/2018 - 15:25

Eight years ago, when graduate nursing alumna Melanie Petschke MSN/FNP ’05 learned she was pregnant with her son, she changed her lifestyle. She started cooking organic foods and cleaning with greener household products. But finding cosmetics that were safe and also performed well was a huge challenge.

Fast forward to 2016. Petschke, with co-founder Kelly Weston, launched Crunchi — a company that produces and sells toxin-free lipsticks, eyeshadows, mascaras, and other cosmetics. The Master of Science in Nursing alumna focuses on research and product development, Weston on business and sales. In two years, Crunchi has grown to be a multi-million-dollar company with 20 full-time employees.

What's toxic about cosmetics?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits cosmetic companies to use many toxic chemicals. As a result, chemicals linked to cancer and other ailments are hidden in the cosmetics women use on their bodies every day. For example, talc, used in conventional makeup, is often contaminated with asbestos, a known human carcinogen. 

Where did the name Crunchi come from?
“Crunchy” is a term for someone who lives a conscious lifestyle and makes organic, environmentally friendly choices. We created Crunchi with the same concept in mind.

How is Crunchi different from other brands?
Mainstream cosmetics brands have potentially harmful ingredients, while organic, greener options often lack in performance — like staying power, color, etc. We set out to prioritize both safety and performance by using ingredients such as silica amorphous and rice powder instead of talc. 

You ask your customers to “join the movement.” What do you mean?
A movement is slowly evolving to empower consumers to be more aware of the choices they make about cosmetics and help them transition to a healthier lifestyle. Crunchi, which is part of the movement, strives to educate consumers with an extensive list of harmful ingredients on our website and in-person safe beauty events.

Did your USF experience influence Crunchi in some way?
USF’s Jesuit mission made me value giving back to the community. Crunchi collaborates with Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Mothers Against Drunk Driving on donation drives where we give them a percentage of our sales.

What’s next?
We have expanded to skincare products like facial creams and we are working on expanding to baby care and other lines. This is just the beginning for Crunchi.

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